Directed by: Mark Atkins
Starring: Natalie Burn, Daz Crawford, Robert Davi, Edward Furlong, Jason London, Michael Pare, Daryl Hannah, and Vinnie Jones
A woman named Billie Kope (Burn) wakes up on a tropical island and has no memory of how she got there. She eventually meets other people held captive in this mysterious place, including Quentin (Davi), Berto (Furlong), and Stitch (Crawford), among others. While Billie relies on her combat training - by her father, played by Benny The Jet - to stay alive, she does remember she’s searching for her missing sister. Unfortunately, the island dwellers are at the mercy of Rich (London), and his goons such as Sarge (Jones) and Xander (Pare) - who are holding them there so they can harvest their organs. When an important client, a woman inexplicably named Mao (Hannah), shows up with her ailing daughter, Rich tells the island doctor, Walsh (Keith) to snap into action. However, by this time Billie and her compatriots are fighting mad and are intending to get off the island by using lethal force against their captors. Much like Gilligan’s Island and/or The Prisoner, will our heroes get off the island?
Awaken is sort of a modern-day DTV cross between Avenging Force (1986), The Condemned (2007), and Death Ring (1992). We’re glad movies like this are still being made, but it seems the only place for them to go are cable channels (some might describe them as “deep cable” channels) such as Showtime Extreme. The solid B-Movie cast goes a long way towards sustaining its entertainment value, and main star Natalie Burn certainly has the potential to go far, in our opinion. Not only did she star in the movie, she has co-story, co-producer, and stunt credits, and even is solely credited with casting. So I guess we have her to thank for getting all these familiar faces together. She even sings the end titles song, “Awaken”, and is/was a ballerina, just like Assassins Run’s Sofya Skya. Is this becoming the new trend in DTV action? Hopefully Skya and Burn will be co-stars in a movie together soon. They could be ex-ballerinas/cops who bust a lot of heads and fight their way up a drug ring to the evil mastermind. If anyone reading this produces these types of movies, give us a call.
There are also some similarities to Gina Carano’s In the Blood (2014) - and even the recent Van Damme movie Pound of Flesh (2015). Maybe it’s not just ballerinas turned action stars that are the new trend, evidently organ donation is hot now too. Thankfully, Awaken combines the two. While the movie as a whole looks good, and you can see Burn’s fights well, there are some poor editing choices which mar the overall pretty cinematography. These are especially evident when someone gets tasered, the scene with the shark attack, and the Michael Pare-Vinnie Jones fight. Sadly, not only was the latter edited badly, but it should have gone on longer and been more built up in the movie. That’s the match-up we’ve been waiting for, and it’s over in a flash.
Fan favorite Robert Davi wears a John Travolta/Nicholas Cage-style wig, Daz Crawford is likable, and Vinnie Jones is his usual head-butting self that we all love and enjoy. Pare isn’t in it all that much, nor is Edward Furlong, who...let’s just say it’s a good thing that people stranded on the island are supposed to look disheveled and tired. Daryl Hannah, fresh off of Death Squad (2014) adds...something, but we’re not sure what. It looks like she’s finally joined the ranks of us lowly DTV dwellers. But I blame Hollywood for that. Because Hollywood sucks and seemingly only releases remakes, sequels, and superhero movies, there’s no place for actresses like Hannah there anymore. And if Hannah’s not going to the theater any longer, Furlong et al. certainly aren’t either. But they’ll always have a home in DTV - surely they can give Natalie Burn a call anytime.
It all ends with a very, very silly shootout, just as the audience’s patience is wearing thin. Awaken is by no means a bad movie, but it ultimately fails to capitalize on all the assets it had at its disposal. We’re hoping Burn goes up to the next level for her next outing.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett